Nike Air Force 1 | A Brief Look Into the AF1 and The Cultural Icon It Has Become Today

With the 40th Anniversary of the Nike Air Force 1 just around the corner, we wanted to take you back to where it all started.

Culturally accepted worldwide amongst athletes and everyday society, the Nike Air Force 1 is undoubtedly one of the Beaverton brand’s greatest sneaker silhouettes of all time. The shoe first took flight in 1982 as a court shoe, boasting Nike Air technology. Named after the President of America’s private plane, this shoe offered both protection and flight. Designed by Bruce Kilgore, the Nike Air Force 1 continues to be popular amongst sneaker purists and everyday wearers to this day. Besides Air technology the sneakers boasted new and innovative features such as a cup sole, exceeding durability within an athlete’s gameplay. A threaded outsole also helped basketballers movements so they could fulfil their sporting potential.

Similar to drop culture today, the Air Force 1 was initially released in a ‘run,’ meaning a limited time of which the shoe was available on store shelves. Once they were gone, they were gone. This meant as an owner, acquiring a pair gave you top tier status and bragging rights within an emerging sneaker culture.

The relationship between music and sport, specifically hip-hop and basketball within New York, in the 80s and 90s, had an ever-lasting effect on the connection between sneakers and consumers. Nicknamed the “Uptowns” amongst inner-city youth, especially in Harlem, New York, the AF1 continues to release head-turning colourways, with eye-catching colour blocking schemes. The sneaker is especially important to the city of Baltimore; when Nike was planning to stop producing the shoe in ’84, the residents helped it live on. The community was later rewarded in 2017 with a “For Baltimore” release that pays homage to their efforts which essentially helped it live on to become a classic. Walking down any street, in any city, you are bound to spot a pair of white on white AF1 Lows within a matter of seconds. A timeless silhouette with a cult like status. A sneaker which is essential to any footwear rotation.

Thanks to collaborations the value behind sneakers still continues to drive an ever-growing market. The Scarr’s Pizza x Nike Air Force 1 collaboration, designed in 2019 by DJ Clark Kent was another coveted pair of sneakers rumoured to have only around 48 pairs made. If you were lucky enough to make it on “the list” amongst Scarr’s Pizza friends & family, you could now own a pair of sneakers worth over $100,000. From collaborations with the likes of Supreme, atmos and Playstation, there are plenty of rare releases for serious sneaker collectors. In a recent Sotheby’s auction we saw a pair of 2009, Nike Air Force 1 ‘Entourage x Undefeated x Fukijama Gold’ sell for a staggering $88,200, proving the model’s 40 year tenure is still very much in demand amongst sneaker enthusiasts and pop-culture enthusiasts. 

An ultimate canvas. The Nike Air Force 1 is crisper than ever. 2022 is going to be a big year for the Air Force 1, with plenty of new models set to hit the shelves. With the re-emergence of the AF1 Mid, this can only be seen as the beginning of a big year for the style. The recent Air Force 1 Sculpt pays homage to the AF1s first release on the courts back in 1982, we recently visited father and daughter duo Chris Bramble and Freya Bramble-Carter, read here. 

Shop the latest styles here.

Nigel Sylvester x Nike Air Force 1 Low iD – 2018

Back in 2018, Nygel Sylvester, professional BMX rider, teamed up with Nike to create two iconic pairs of NIKEiD Air Force 1s. The recently signed Nike athlete took inspiration from his home city of New York to create two draw-dropping models, perfect for any collectors sneaker rotation. 

Nike Air Force 1 Low NYC Procell Wildcard – 2019

2019 brought the Nike Air Force 1 Procell, a sneaker which resembled New York City as a blank canvas to which you can create almost anything and fulfill true creative potential. Nike’s NYC Editions collaboration series featured this shoe which was a standout in the collection. 

Nike Air Force 1 Low ’07 Craft Dark Beetroot – 2021

A no doubt slept on Air Force 1 model for sure. The Dark Beetroot colourway was straight forward in design but expressed jaw-dropping premium materials and qualities, right down to the metallic silver finished lace dubraes.

Nike Air Force 1 Low G-Dragon Peaceminusone Para-Noise – 2019

A stand-out collaboration which will stand the test of time amongst sneaker enthusiasts. The G-Dragon x Nike Air Force 1 Para-Noise from 2019 is unique in almost every element. Over time the peel away upper reveals G-Dragon’s artwork whilst boasting the PEACEMINUSONE daisy logo embroidered on the tongue taking you back to the artist’s South Korean heritage. 

Nike Lunar Force 1 Low Acronym – 2017

In 2017, Errolson Hugh’s took his iteration on the Air Force 1 to new levels. The fashion forward design came in a triple white colourway with a lunar midsole. Features also included a zippered closure along the sides.

Nike Air Force 1 Low ’07 White Obsidian – 2019

One of the cleanest Air Force 1 colourways around. 2019 brought the Air Force 1 White Obsidian. A sneaker which can be worn with almost any outfit, the gum out-soles fitted with a crisp white upper and a eye-popping black swoosh help this shoe really stand out. 

Nike Air Force 1 Low 3M Snake – 2021

Initially released in 2001, the Nike Air Force 1 Low 3M Snake (2021) pays homage to its previous predecessor. Silver 3M fabric laces the sneaker to hint reflective features. Not one to be missed.  

Nike Air Force 1 Low CLOT Blue Silk – 2019

When it comes to Nike collaborations Edison Chen’s CLOT never seems to miss the mark. The Air Force 1 CLOT is drowned in luxurious silk embossed with a traditional chinese pattern. Inspired by the concept of Yin and Yang this sneaker was rumoured to be immensely limited. 

Nike Air Force 1 Mid QS Jewel NYC White Midnight Navy – 2021

A re-introduction to the Air Force 1 Mid, the recent Jewel Quickstrike model inspired by the streets of NYC is a favoured shoe amongst sneaker enthusiasts. The clean colourway makes it very wearable within any fashion setting. We still have some sizes remaining in this style here.

Nike Air Force 1 High Sculpt White Silver – 2021

The Air Force 1 Sculpt takes things back to its most minimal stages. With strapless ankles and an aged mid-sole this sneaker takes you back to the AF1s early beginnings. Shop the style here.

Nike Air Force 1 Low Taiwan – 2018

A retro of all retro’s. 2018 saw one of the Air Force 1s greatest color schemes of all time re-release. Finished in patent leather this sneaker was a must have amongst AF1 collectors and sneaker loyalists.

Nike Air Force 1 Low Retro Cocoa Snake – 2018

Like the 3M snake, the ‘Cocoa Snake’ was also originally released in 2001 as a Japanese exclusive. Legendary ATMOS creative director Hirofumi Kojima confirmed the sneakers re-introduction to sneaker shelves in 2018. Head-turning snakeskin panelling makes this shoe unique in every possibility. A must have when it comes to AF1s and their historical status. 

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